Dec. 7, 2009— -- The best gift for many Americans this year would be a new job. If you know someone who's out of work, give an hour of your time and talent to offer job search support.
For those who are employed, spreading holiday cheer in your workplace doesn't have to break the bank. Many cheap and chic gifts for coworkers, colleagues and clients don't exceed $15.
A mini box of IdeaPaint turns any office surface into a dry erase board. Convert boring conference room walls, filing cabinets, doors and hallways into opportunities for doodles and ideas that inspire. The Web site offers ideas to spark your imagination. Guaranteed to impress, bets are the boss will want to purchase this special paint in bulk.
Place the vinyl decals on any wall to create an instant chalkboard. Assorted shapes and sizes of the peel-off wonders are also available from various sellers on Etsy.
You can't go wrong with a small, hand-stamped metal keychain with a personalized message. One of our versions read, "Robin: You're the key to our 2010 success!" These are mom-made using a variety of metals.
Made by another mom, you can't beat the price for an original gift of six definition magnets. Get creative by selecting any six words found in a dictionary that describe the recipient, and they'll be turned into a mini magnet set with a magnified message. American Personalized Products bookmarks: $14
Select a personalized bookmark and let a co-worker know that he or she is all right in your book. As a bonus, include your favorite business book.
Grill Topper: $13
Celebrate the spirit of the "team player" in your office by selecting a grill topper featuring the logo of his or her favorite team.
Cutie Clementines: $4 to $8
Surprise the office with a healthy, sweet and seedless treat. A five-pound box found in most grocery stores will satisfy the whole department or any small office.
Yummy Cupcakes: $6 and up
Cupcakes on a stick or in a jar taste great and make an original sweet statement upon arrival to any workplace.
Breadwinner Breads: $15
Send a loaf of delicious sweet homemade seasonal breads with clever names that are sure to please every "breadwinner."
Modern swear bank: $14
Use some humor while reminding certain colleagues to keep it clean or pay the price.
Vintage cuss banks: $9 and up
An assortment can be found on Ebay or at antique and collectibles stores and swap meets.
Backscratchers at Back Scratcher World: $10 and up
Grab one at a dollar store or choose from the impressive options on the Web site that claims to have the world's largest selection. A basic backscratcher is turned into a meaningful -- and addictive gift -- when accompanied by a note thanking your co-worker for always having your back and/or promising to have your colleague's back in the New Year.
Gift Cards and Lotto Luck
When I asked people on Twitter what they'd want for $10 from a colleague, the majority said a gift card or scratch-off lottery tickets. For $5 to $15, you can buy a co-worker several cups of coffee with a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts gift card, or even lunch with a Subway gift card. And for as little as $1, that scratch-off lotto ticket could wind up being the gift of a million bucks.
Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire. She recently launched a national network of local job clubs called WaggleForce.com. Connect with her on Twitter.com/ToryJohnson.